How Is a Disc Bulge Treated?

Treatment for a disc bulge, or herniated disc, include medications, therapy or surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic. There are also some treatments that a patient can do at home to alleviate the pain.

In general, nonsurgical treatments are pursued for the first six to 12 weeks following the onset of symptoms, according to If these treatments do not improve symptoms after this time period, spinal decompression surgery is considered as an option. Surgery is also considered if symptoms progress during these treatments or the resulting pain prevents the patient from a normal level of function.

Medications to treat a disc bulge include over-the-counter medications such as naproxen or ibuprofen, explains Mayo Clinic. If the pain does not subside with these medications, a doctor may prescribe a narcotic, such as Percocet or OxyContin for a short time. Doctors may also suggest medications for nerve pain, such as Lyrica or Cymbalta, as they have less severe side effects than narcotics. Muscle relaxers may also work to treat a disc bulge, as may cortisone injections.

Doctors may also suggest physical therapy for a disc bulge as there are exercises that can help to minimize the pain, states Mayo Clinic. A physical therapist may also suggest traction, heat or ice, ultrasound, bracing or electrical stimulation. If nothing else works, a doctor may also suggest surgery, but only if the patient has undergone conservative treatments after six weeks. Other reasons a doctor may suggest surgery include numbness, weakness, difficulty walking or standing, or the loss of bowel or bladder control. During surgery, the doctor can usually remove the problematic portion of the disc, but other times, the entire disc may be removed, which requires fusion of the vertebrae.